A Joyride with Arise Collective

A Joyride with Arise Collective
All photos: Jared Harber

The other day, I was on my biweekly virtual meeting with my former boss. We have kept our meeting intact on our calendars, even after both getting laid off on the same day back in November. She now studies holistic medicine and is launching a nonprofit to help abuse survivors via gardening and community building. I run a bike shop. Life comes at you fast.

On this episode of our conversation: Eight women, all recently released from prison, were going to rent out my entire fleet for this upcoming Saturday morning. Needless to say, we were both pumped.

I recounted to Shannon how the upcoming ride with Arise Collective had fallen into place: Weeks earlier, I received an email from a woman named Molly who introduced me to her awesome company's awesome mission: helping formerly incarcerated women with smooth reentries into society. As it pertains to The Bike Library, the Arise Collective is working with Oaks and Spokes to implement a monthly bike ride to help these women gain confidence on bikes; many of whom have not ridden since before their time in prison. They needed a bunch of good bikes for about two hours on a Saturday. Hey - I know a place!

Narrator: It was at this moment that Cameron launched into a twenty minute digression on how bikes provide low-cost transportation (unlike a car, gas, insurance) and can't be revoked (like a driver's license) and also improve physical and mental health and also connect people rather than divide them and also provide opportunities and are also a great source of joy. After thoroughly making his point, he resumed the story.

Eight women and some staff showed up at 8am on Saturday – they had booked out every single one of The Bike Library's bikes. After a brief introduction from Molly, Jared, and Lauren, we sized them on their bikes and they took off! A few wobbles at the beginning quickly smoothed out into what Shannon recommended be termed a "Joyride."

It's simple and maybe a little cliche, but seeing their smiles when they rolled back into the lot after riding to Lake Johnson confirmed that it was indeed a Joyride. I was goose bumpin' like you read about it. Naturally, there had been a fall or two out on the trail. But they didn't care - they'd had a blast!

Joyride. Yes. It was a joyride. The memories of that first time on a bike after decades; the feeling of the breeze, of strength, of autonomy and independence after a long time away... those memories will remain long after the bruises and scrapes heal up.

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